It is no surprise that those most invested in the plutocracy in which we live are trying to further entrench their power and wealth by taking even more away from those who already have little or nothing. It is no surprise that the corporate media who are now part of that plutocracy are in bed with those trying to suppress the working class and poverty-stricken citizens of this country. When they do report on groups like ALEC or anti-worker legislation it is a glossed over incomplete picture that purports to be a balanced look at both sides of the issue, or they write editorials supporting laws that continue to allow the takeover of our country by a small and wealthy elite. It is no surprise that lawmakers are beholden to corporations and wealthy individuals that pay for their campaigns in a country where corporations are considered people and money is considered speech.
What is surprising is the number of people who vote for candidates who stand for everything that is against their own self-interests. What is surprising is the people affected by such shenanigans who support legislation that undermines their own well-being or that of people they supposedly care about. I was talking with someone yesterday about the push to end minimum wage laws and they didn’t understand the problem with that. I was stunned. Of course, it was a salaried person who likely wouldn’t be hurt–at least not immediately–by such a thing. But I think she didn’t understand that once hourly workers’ wages are reduced those at the top of the ladder will also understand that they don’t have to pay salaried employees as much either, because it’s all relative. “There are two sides to every story,” she said, oblivious to the impact that no minimum wage laws would have on a huge number of people in this country and how it would eventually affect us all. She went on to say that businesses could hire people who have been unemployed and provide more jobs. And yes, they could. It felt like her heart really seemed to be in the right place and she was trying to find the good in such a proposal. Someone like her might believe that such a law could allow people like her to help people out, but most of the greedy corporations in this country would use the idea of no minimum wage to pay as little as possible to as many as possible (except, of course, for the CEOs who will continue to get millions of dollars in pay and obscene bonuses to oversee their serfs). Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.
Why people vote against their own well-being and support laws that leave them in a worse place is what confuses me. I understand billionaires trying to protect their fiefdoms, but I don’t understand labor asking for additional chains. I don’t understand people not processing what it is they are hearing so that they understand how laws will affect them and those around them. They buy into propaganda campaigns that tell them things like public employee unions are sucking money from them, without understanding that without unions their own wages would be lower. As ALEC and others are working to dismantle unions they also have long-range plans to pretty much destroy the economy we once had and turn us into a third world country where we will fight over low-paying jobs with horrible conditions because it’s all we can get.
The idea that we are even talking about reducing or eliminating minimum wage laws would have been unimaginable even ten or twenty years ago. We have been through a depression in the last decade with unemployment just now coming down and it has left those in the working class hungry to accept anything. When you have been unemployed and with no income for two years a job at the current minimum wage sounds great, even if you were making $20 an hour before losing your job. If “financial experts” are saying that eliminating the minimum wage will create more jobs and you haven’t had a job for three years that might sound like a good thing, even though it is not. When you have not eaten anything for two days scraps from the table of a feast becomes a welcome meal. The problem is those at the top keep giving us less scraps from their table so that we are thankful for whatever little bits are left.
These attempts to gut unions, reduce wages, and in other ways create a permanent workforce happy with scraps has to stop now before it is too late. If the poor and working class among us do not stand up now and say no to the further deterioration of our place in society we will soon have no place left in society. It is time for all the working class heroes struggling to survive now to stand up and speak out before we are no longer allowed to stand up and speak out. Otherwise, we will become denizens of a Dickensian world that we thought had ended more than a century ago and our bodies and souls will be trapped in poorhouses that we may never escape.